ISTANBUL (Reuters) -The foreign ministers of Turkey, Pakistan and Afghanistan called on the Afghan Taliban on Friday to reaffirm its commitment to achieving a negotiated settlement for lasting peace in Afghanistan.
In a joint statement issued after talks in Istanbul, the three ministers underlined “the urgent need for an immediate ceasefire” to end the violence and “provide a conducive atmosphere” for peace talks.
A U.S.-backed Afghan peace conference to be hosted in Istanbul hosted by Turkey, Qatar and the United Nations on Saturday was postponed over the Taliban’s non-participation.
Ankara has said the talks will be held after the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan but no new date has been set.
The foreign ministers of Turkey, Afghanistan and Pakistan on Friday discussed the planned conference, aimed at fast-tracking an agreement between the Afghan government and the Taliban following Washington’s announcement that foreign troops will leave Afghanistan by Sept. 11.
The ministers “called on all parties, in particular the Taliban to reaffirm their commitment for achieving an inclusive negotiated settlement leading to lasting peace in Afghanistan desired by the Afghan people, the region and the international community”, according to the joint statement.
They also “deplored the continuing high level of violence in Afghanistan.”
Speaking at a joint news conference after the talks, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Ankara’s support for the Afghan peace process and efforts to organise the conference in Istanbul would continue.
“As the co-organisers, we are continuing talks on this with all sides,” he said, alongside Pakistani Foreign Minister Shan Mahmood Qureshi.
Afghan Foreign Minister Hanif Atmar joined the meeting via video link for health reasons, Cavusoglu said.
The Taliban had earlier refused to attend any summits until all foreign forces were pulled out of Afghanistan. The Taliban and the United States last year agreed that all foreign forces would be withdrawn from Afghanistan by May 1, a date that was pushed back last week by U.S. President Joe Biden.
The Islamist Taliban ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, when they were ousted by U.S.-led forces. Since then, they have waged a long-running insurgency and still control wide swathes of territory.
(Reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu; Editing by Daren Butler and Timothy Heritage)